From an internal to external orientation at Icares, Eindhoven
2013 – Icares, located in Eindhoven, the netherlands is a developer of digital tests in the field of professions, studies and interests. Customers are in particular reintegration agencies (professional testing) and coaches at schools (study testing). Besides digital tests they also offer personal career guidance and advice. Icares employs six permanent employees, besides freelancers and self-employed professionals are connected to the business.
Smarter and more market-oriented collaboration
The company Icares was strongly inward oriented and had a too limited marketing power. Employees are highly educated, highly focused on content quality, modest and did not naturally have the intention to ‘sell’ their expertise. When a large customer dropped, the organisation could not depend anymore on the director alone doing the sales and commercial contacts. To increase the external focus Icares had to increase the proactivity, the strength and the innovativeness of its employees. In this way the organization could respond better to new markets.
Relying on a Workplace Innovation Grant, the company could realize a change.
In a number of brainstorming sessions ideas are exchanged to work smarter and more market-oriented. Subsequently, a number of people wrote a ‘business plan Icares’. They used diagnostic tools and methodologies. In addition, there have been individual interviews and was selected for more focus. Scenarios are developed and they choose for more specialization in fewer products and for focus on a few countries (less than before), for getting more website visitors, finding new markets and developing marketing skills. Subsequently, staff prepared a marketing plan. This focus also led to new forms of cooperation. Employees tell every Wednesday morning what they did on the market; thus they fed the switch from product to market oriented thinking. It was also possible to show good practices. Internally the work is organised smarter and more flexible (increase labour flexibility and dynamic management). Through individual career paths are forms of cooperation are embedded in the organization.
In the first year immediately 25 new customers were recruited and realised break even in turnover despite the loss of the large customer. Everyone including management is convinced. Entire scope of the company is facing out now. The director is more active in acquiring new international clients, at national level the marketing and sales is now done by other employees.
An employer must ensure continuity, structure, security, comfortable and healthy working. If you ask you employees for innovation and creativity you cannot be formal and restrictive. The desire to be proactive and innovative has to be intrinsically present in people. The identification of the problem is the beginning of the solution. If people are not able to perform, you must say good bye to them or give them a job that they are able to do.
See the website : www.socialeinnovatiebrabant.nl and the company’s website : www.icares.nl / www.icares.com
Themes: Dynamic management & Leadership; Smart work
 Between 2009 – 2011 there was a subsidy for SME’s in the provinces of Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland. It was managed by the province of Brabant (PSW) and Syntens.